Dec. 6, 1999

The Orange

by Wendy Cope

Broadcast Date: MONDAY: December 6, 1999

Poem: "The Orange" by Wendy Cope from Serious Concerns published by Faber & Faber.

Today is the feast day of St. Nicholas, one of the most popular saints in Christendom. Legend has it that a nobleman in his city of Myra, in Asia Minor, grew so poor he considered allowing his three daughters to become prostitutes. Hearing of this, 3 nights in a row St. Nicholas went secretly to the man's home, and each night threw a bag of gold into the daughters room, providing a dowry for each of the girls and saving them from disgrace.

It's the birthday of philosophical writer and mystic poet Khalil Gibran [jib-RAHN], born in Lebanon (1883). Best known for his book The Prophet (a collection of 26 poetic essays, 1923). He lived in Boston from age 12 to 15, then returned to Beirut, where he studied Arabic. At 29 he settled in New York City for good, where he wrote in English and Arabic on such topics as love, death, nature, and a longing for homeland.

It's the birthday of poet (Alfred) Joyce Kilmer, born in New Brunswick, New Jersey (1886). Poet famous for his poem "Trees" (1913), which begins: I think that I shall never see A poem lovely as a tree. He was killed in action near Ourcy [oor-SEE], France, in 1918.

It's the birthday of lyricist Ira Gershwin (Israel Gershvin), born in New York (1896). First he collaborated with his brother George—and then, after George's death, with other composers—on such shows as Lady Be Good (1924), and Lady in the Dark (1940, with Kurt Weill), Cover Girl (1944, with Jerome Kern). His songs include "The Man I Love," "I Got Rhythm," and "Someone To Watch Over Me."

It's the birthday of photographer Eliot Porter, born in Winnetka, Illinois (1901)—noted for his color shots of birds and landscapes. After medical training at Harvard, and then 10 years spent teaching biochemistry there, he took up photography full-time. His books include In Wilderness Is the Preservation of the World (1962), The Place No One Knew (1963), Baja California (1967), and The Tree Where Man Was Born (1972).

On this day in 1921, the Irish Free State was born. Ireland's 26 southern counties were granted independence from Britain, while 6 of the 8 Protestant-majority counties of Ulster, in the northeast, remained part of the United Kingdom. Negotiators from both Britain and from southern Ireland preferred a single Irish parliament, or Dail ["doil"], in Dublin—but Ulster's Protestant leaders refused to bow to the Catholic south.

It's the birthday of novelist and playwright Peter Handke, born in Griffen, Austria (1942)—among the most original German writers of this century. He first drew attention with his play Offending the Audience (1966), in which 4 actors analyze the nature of theater for an hour, then insult the audience—then praise the act of performance, prompting different reactions from different audiences. Other plays include Kaspar (1968) about the foundling Kaspar Hausar, and The Ride Across Lake Constance (1971). His novels have titles like The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick (1970) and The Left-Handed Woman (1976).

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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